Go to contents

New COVID-19 testing system causes public confusion

Posted February. 04, 2022 07:48,   

Updated February. 04, 2022 07:50


The new quarantine system that allows patients to get tested and examined for COVID-19 in small-sized nearby hospitals was kicked off on Thursday nationwide. The latest measure has been taken in a bid to lessen the burden for the medical authorities to handle the daily infection cases now hovering over 20,000. But the number of medical facilities available for the test was a lot lower compared to the government announcement, and the testing fees were inconsistent, causing massive confusion among patients.

According to the quarantine authorities, as of Thursday, there are a total 1,018 neighborhood hospitals that have expressed their willingness to offer the examination services of COVID-19 to the Korea Medical Association. The authorities said 343 hospitals will start offering the examination services on Thursday, but the actual number of hospitals available stood at 207. “The number of non-COVID patients surged after the Lunar New Year holiday, and the delivery of rapid antigen test kits got delayed owing to the holiday,” said an official from the quarantine authorities.

The posting of the list of hospitals was also delayed; it was posted on the website of Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service at 11 a.m. on the day. Complaints exploded asking where they can get the medical examinations. The quarantine authorities predict that the exam services will become available in all listed hospitals sometime next week. On the other hand, a total 391 that had been designated and announced as “respiratory clinics” kicked off their service on Thursday.

Many people paid a trip to the hospitals in vain. Starting on Thursday, those aged under 60 were not allowed to get a PCR test in screening stations. The testing fee of 5,000 won, which was newly introduced, also caused conflicts between patients and doctors.

The daily count of infection cases was an all-time high at 22,907 as of 12 a.m. on Thursday, setting another new record for three days in a row. The current social distancing measure of “gathering of a maximum 6 people until 9 p.m.,” which will expire on Sunday, is likely to be extended for another round. The new social distancing policy will be determined after a Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters meeting on Friday.

easy@donga.com · noel@donga.com